Mother pleads not guilty in abuse case

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A young Lincoln County mother who is alleged to have given birthin her bathroom and put the baby boy in a cabinet pleaded notguilty Tuesday and asked for a preliminary hearing in her case.

Nineteen-year-old Tasia Pendleton, 19, is facing a single felonycharge of contributing to the neglect of delinquency of a child;felonious abuse and/or battery of a child stemming from the July 15birth of her infant son.

Both Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing and District AttorneyDee Bates declined comment on the case until the investigation iscomplete.

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“I am still unable to comment about this case at this time,”Rushing said.

Pendleton’s attorney Joe Fernald said he is confident the teenmother will be absolved of any wrongdoing.

“Based on what I’ve been told I’m satisfied that when the storygets out, she’ll be in the clear,” he said. “We maintain herinnocence until what time I see something to challenge that.”

Fernald said Pendleton did not appear before the Lincoln CountyJustice Court to make her plea Tuesday because a letter had beensent to request a preliminary hearing. Her preliminary hearing isscheduled for Sept. 12.

“We don’t have anything to say right now, but we sent a letterthat we’re representing Ms. Pendleton,” Fernald said.

The sensational case drew statewide attention when sources closeto the investigation confirmed allegations Pendleton had givenbirth in her home and put the baby in a cabinet, where it was foundafter she had been taken to the hospital for complicationsfollowing delivery.

“We’re not prepared to make a statement on the facts of the caseyet since I have not yet seen the state’s evidence,” saidFernald.

But the attorney maintained his client had reason for heractions.

“I think once all the evidence is out, it will show that theevents were plausible under the circumstances,” said Fernald. “Oncethey’re out into the cold, hard light of day and all the hysteriais over, I think people will see the truth and stop rushing tojudgment.”